Holy Week 2022: Living Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

It is tempting to forget that there were three long days and nights between the crucifixion and the resurrection beause the way we observe this season rushes us past the pain to embrace the promise.

But it’s not hard for me to imagine how the disciples felt when they saw Jesus was dead.  It was neither what they expected nor what they prayed for.

There were many points in the story when things could have gone a different way:

  • When taken by the religious leaders-surely, they thought, He will explain Himself, they will let Him go.
  • When taken before Pilate-Rome will refuse to get involved with our spiritual squabbles, Pilate won’t authorize His death.
  • When presented to the crowd-no Jew would rather have a wicked murderer released instead of a humble, healing Rabbi.

At every turn, every expectation they had for a “happy ending” was dashed to the ground.

Read the rest here:  Living Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

Lenten Reflections: Proximity Does Not Equal Intimacy

Hey friend-I’ve been there.

Many of us who’ve spent decades in church can attest to filling a position because it answered a need deep inside of us rather than because of our love for Jesus.

It’s entirely possible to be near the things and people of God-even God Himself- and not be attentive to or aware of the Presence of Christ.

There were lots of folks around the cross.

Some were paid to be there-for the Roman guards it was just another day at work. Some were there against their will-the two thieves were going to be crucified somewhere it just happened to be next to the Son of God.

Some wished they weren’t there as they watched their son (Mary) and beloved rabbi (John) die. Some were just walking by and were either curious or not depending on their dispositions.

Today Chole invites me to think about where I am in relation to the cross-am I near but not listening?

Am I “doing” but not “loving”?

Is my body occupying a pew or a pulpit while my spirit is far away?

Paid to be close to Jesus: nearest and yet farthest away. The paycheck can change your perspective whether paid in cash or praise. The soldiers valued Jesus’ stuff more than His life. As they kept themselves busy around the cross, they numbed themselves to His voice.

Today, fast God-as-job. Whether your check comes from a church or not, consider ways in which you, too, may be near in body but absent in spirit, taking care of Jesus’ stuff but now attending to His voice. Proximity does not automate intimacy. Only love transforms “near” into “for”.

Alicia Britt Chole

Lenten Reflections: Fleeing From Willful Sin, Resting In God’s Love

I’ll just be completely honest here-there are some sins I don’t have much trouble avoiding. I’m not tempted to shoplift or physically harm others.

However, like all of us I have some pet sins I not only don’t avoid but I actually feed from time to time.

And like most folks, I justify my sin as “small” compared to the “big” sins of headline worthy wars or crimes or dastardly actions by those in power over those beneath them.

Why linger in the pain so many centuries after Christ’s resurrection?
Because it was real. Perhaps we would live differently if we remembered more frequently (and more accurately) what the cross cost.

Alicia Britt Chole

The thing is, any time I choose to willfully so something God has expressly forbidden I am sinning.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus enlarged our understanding of sin to include thoughts and intentions of the heart even when our outward actions appear above board.

By this standard I fall short very often-sometimes by slipping into inadvertent sin but also sometimes by actively choosing that which momentarily satisfies my flesh but dishonors my Savior.

After Dom ran ahead to Heaven it was very, very hard to justify to my heart the benefits of continuing to walk the narrow path.

I was focused on what I thought was unfair and unkind-the death of my son-and found it difficult to focus on what I knew to be true-that God was all-loving and good.

‘It’s God who ought to suffer, not you and me,’ say those who bear a grudge against God for the unfairness of life. The curse word expresses it well: God be damned. And on that day, God was damned. The cross that held Jesus’ body, naked and marked with scars, exposed all the violence and injustice of this world. At once, the Cross revealed what kind of world we have and what kind of God we have: a world of gross unfairness, a God of sacrificial love.

Philip Yancey

Little by little, as I leaned heavily into His lovingkindness, mercy and grace, I once again could choose Willful Obedience.

Today’s challenge is to fast from willful sin.

To lay down my tendency to arrange sin in categories ranging from “acceptable” to “hell-worthy” which makes some OK and excusable.

May I be more aware of the cost Christ paid and choose to honor that sacrifice in my daily life.

Jesus died for our sin. Why then do we work to keep it alive? What benefit do we perceive ourselves receiving? Does that benefit outweigh the cost Christ paid? This is not a simplistic call to stop sinning. No, this is a sincere call for us to start loving Jesus to a degree that compels us to walk away from sin where we can and get help where we can’t.

Alicia Britt Chole

Lenten Reflections: Fasting Neutrality-Living and Dying For the Name of Jesus

When I read the account of Holy Week, I like to think I wouldn’t have denied or deserted Jesus.

But truth is, I deny and desert Him in much less treacherous or troublesome moments nearly every day.

When friends or family challenge my faith or raise issues I’d rather not discuss or present me with challenging moral quandaries I can’t quite pigeon hole into easy black and white resolutions, I will often retreat or remain silent or simply prevaricate.

I’m sometimes unwilling to put my (unimportant) reputation on the line much less my life!

And yet, that’s precisely what Jesus has called me to do.

Deny self or deny Jesus: this is the crux. Remaining neutral is not an option. We have to choose a side….In the small, undocumented details of life, choose Jesus over self and recommit to living cross-ward.

Alicia Britt Chole

He demands my absolute loyalty even while He understands I’m unlikely to give it at all times in all places.

Thank God for abundant and overwhelming grace!

But that does not absolve me of the call.

It does not diminish the obligation.

So for at least today, I’m going to fast neutrality.

I’m going to live twenty-four hours without shirking or hiding or slinking away when life demands I choose.

I will recklessly abandon self-preservation and embrace wholeheartedly the passionate life of a devoted disciple of my Shepherd King.

Don’t Rush Past Good Friday

Bury a child and suddenly the death of Christ becomes oh, so personal. The image of Mary at the foot of the cross is too hard to bear.

I trusted Jesus at an early age and I have lived my life beneath the shadow of the wings of the Almighty God.

But I never-not really-grasped the horror of the crucifixion until I watched as my own son’s body was lowered in the ground.

Read the rest here: Remember: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

Denying Pain Diminishes the Power of the Cross

To deny the presence of pain is to diminish the power of the cross.  

Dying, Jesus honored His mother’s courage by acknowledging her pain. She was losing the Son she loved and it hurt in a way that only mothers can comprehend.  He didn’t tell her that it would “be alright” or that “the ending is ultimately victorious”.

Instead, He looked upon her trembling figure and saw her broken heart.

Read the rest here: denial

Holy Week Reflections: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

Bury a child and suddenly the death of Christ becomes oh, so personal. The image of Mary at the foot of the cross is too hard to bear.

I trusted Jesus at an early age and I have lived my life beneath the shadow of the wings of the Almighty God.

But I never-not really-grasped the horror of the crucifixion until I watched as my own son’s body was lowered in the ground.

Death. is. awful.

Read the rest here:  Remember: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

denial

To deny the presence of pain is to diminish the power of the cross.  

Dying, Jesus honored His mother’s courage by acknowledging her pain. She was losing the Son she loved and it hurt in a way that only mothers can comprehend.  He didn’t tell her that it would “be alright” or that “the ending is ultimately victorious”.

Instead, He looked upon her trembling figure and saw her broken heart.

He made what practical provision He could by telling John to care for her. He knew it would not undo her sorrow.

Some in the church preach that pain and suffering are anomalies–that they are aberrations in the “victorious Christian life”.

And we place great emphasis on the idea that even though we may have trouble in this life–“We know the REST of the story! Jesus WINS!

Yes. He. does.

But some of our earthly stories-the ones we are living right now- do not have tidy, happy endings:

Some are burned in the fire.

Some die of cancer.

Some fall headlong into mental illness.

And some bury their children.

What to do when you are confronted by undeniable pain in your own or someone else’s life?

Acknowledge it.

Look with mercy on the broken heart.

Allow suffering to flow from the cracks unchecked and unjudged.

Be still and be love.

Offer practical aid without strings attached.  Be mindful of what is actually helpful even if it doesn’t make sense to you.  Come alongside for the long haul.

There is no greater gift to the one who is suffering than a faithful friend who refuses to be frightened away.

Loving burden-bearers help those of us living with no-happy-ending earthly stories cling more securely to the hope of ultimate victory in Christ.  

And by doing so, declare the power of the cross.  

For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18 AMP

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